Con­vert­ing Walkin­shaw

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle News -

Ahulk­ing, $140,000 RAM truck points to the fu­ture of the Walkin­shaw Au­to­mo­tive Group in Aus­tralia.

The par­ent com­pany of Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles, which is now led by sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion mo­tor mogul Ryan Walkin­shaw, is look­ing to di­ver­sify its engi­neer­ing and sales base here in Aus­tralia to move away from the his­tor­i­cal reliance on Holden.

It has done the RAM deal in part­ner­ship with Neville Crichton’s Ateco group, us­ing its engi­neer­ing and pro­duc­tion ex­per­tise to pro­vide the full-sized right-hand drive trucks de­manded by a small but wealthy num­ber of lo­cal buy­ers.

The RAM deal was orig­i­nally con­ceived by for­mer Fiat Chrysler Aus­tralia boss Clyde Camp­bell, al­though it had to be re-ig­nited by Crichton fol­low­ing his de­par­ture from the com­pany. And it was Crichton who also tapped Walkin­shaw for ev­ery­thing from the right-hand drive con­ver­sion work to pro­duc­tion at the same Clay­ton base used by HSV.

There is now po­ten­tial for fur­ther RAM work, as Fiat Chrysler has re­cently re­jected a re-badged version of the Mit­subishi Tri­ton for Aus­tralia in favour of an­other pro­gram based out of the United States.

“I’ve made no se­cret of the fact that we want to grow our op­er­a­tion here in Aus­tralia and Asia into a new TWR, the way it was at its peak. There are a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties. We are one of the few com­pa­nies who can pro­vide orig­i­nal equip­ment makers with ev­ery­thing for niche-prod­uct op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Walkin­shaw re­vealed to AMC.

“The first RAM trucks are now out. The dealer feed­back has been fan­tas­tic. We’ve sold ev­ery­thing we ex­pected and we’re ex­pect­ing to sell even more.

“The qual­ity of this kind of con­ver­sion has never been done any­where in the world. We had am­bi­tions to do an OEM-stan­dard con­ver­sion, which is what peo­ple ex­pect at this price.”

The RAM deal was done in a part­ner­ship be­tween Walkin­shaw and Crichton that cre­ated a new com­pany called Amer­i­can Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles.

It now in­tends to do a full-scale ANCAP crash test with the truck to prove its safety and the engi­neer­ing work on the lo­cal con­ver­sion. But Walkin­shaw also hinted that he is look­ing for ex­tra op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­ports out of Aus­tralia.

“Our am­bi­tions are too look at other right-hand drive coun­tries. Our pri­or­ity wil be to do the best job we can.”

He said pro­duc­tion can run at up to four trucks a day, leav­ing more room for fu­ture ex­pan­sion.

It’s typ­i­cal of the Walkin­shaw op­er­a­tion in Aus­tralia, which is do­ing a grow­ing num­ber of de­sign and engi­neer­ing jobs.

“Our de­sign stu­dio is cur­rently fully booked. And it’s not all Holden work. We also have more and more engi­neer­ing jobs,” Walkin­shaw said. “We have been do­ing de­sign engi­neer­ing and small-run man­u­fac­tur­ing for nu­mer­ous man­u­fac­tur­ers for quite some time. We made sure there is no cross­over and con­fi­den­tial­ity is the ut­most im­por­tance. This is not ex­actly new for Walkin­shaw Group, as at the peak for TWR we were do­ing work of some sort for nine dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers.”

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